In Nepal, it is difficult to find an intellectual unstained by Hindu/Buddhist or some sort of political ideology. This tendency might be a global phenomenon, yet, in Nepal, it stretches to a nauseating degree, so much so that you can correctly guess an intellectual’s entire idea-set by merely knowing his/hers religious/political inclination. The person I am writing about today is Laxmi Prasad Devkota.
He struggled with both those elements and yet managed to live and create in a way that included and transcended them.
You can’t predict him, you can’t guess him and you get both annoyed and exalted by his spontaneity and randomness: in other words, by his poetic genius.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding the man.
Stories of him giving away his coat to the poor; writing lengthy poems in cigarette packs; struggling immensely with money; being sent to Ranchi (a city in India known for mental treatment) — are abound. It was in this context that he was called a geographical mistake by a Brit whose name I cannot recall.
Yet some had enough sense to recognize him and call him a Nepali Mahakavi (Great Poet). But apart from that, his works and ideas aren’t popular in a folk sense and his presence is mostly limited within dull school-books.
Yes, such is the society of Nepal and such was the man born here: ahead of his time, inappropriately in space!
He mostly wrote poems (epic, short, metered, unmetered) spanning from Nepali Shakuntala to Prometheus. His seminal work Munamadan is still considered to be the greatest work of Nepali Literature. It is a tragedy about a man who leaves his wife and mother to go to Lhasa for a better financial life.
He wrote songs. He also wrote a lot of short stories and a novel.
His essays are brilliant and it is in this context that I would like to introduce his ideas to people who aren’t familiar with him.
A few years ago I published a collection of poetry in English named PARANOIA:
When I reached to the final stages the work — set to publish — I had the idea of using my work as a medium to interpret a couple of Nepali writers — in English. I translated certain lines I liked from Devkota’s essay collection and placed it in.
The translations include his thoughts on a wide array of things: creativity, art, science, philosophy, spirituality, education, life, god, etc.
I now want to quit this rambling of mine and insert those translations/interpretations so that you can judge and hopefully enjoy his ideas on your own.
Truth shines through feelings…
In the heart lies the luminosity of God.
Feelings or emotions are primary
Desiring and thinking come later.
To be devoid of these four is the sign of being a beast.
Difficulty doesn’t imply depth.
Difficulty doesn’t mean Art,
Incomprehensibility doesn’t have any value.
To manufacture machines.
And the soul desires a thing,
education provides something else.
All I’ve learned till B.A
in three years
I can put into little children’s minds better,
That we usually call Education
is making man stupid.
Creation Love Art
And love is the chief element of creation
Whilst Art is the chief action of love
I yearn to see:
What lies there in the heart!
I want to bow my head
As if the all pervading God is scolding me.
I know that I am a sinner.
The beautifully illustrated Truth is Art
Which springeth from the creative imagination.
The truth lies in our life
and unless it comes from the formlessness to the form:
we do not realize it.
Civilization hasn’t yet started.
We haven’t learned to respect life.
Real progress will start
The day our sentiment of brotherhood gets firm
As long as we aspire to become great in this world
or hold feelings to do things
and show our pride,
Vairagya is impossible.
To doubt is better,
as it helps understand,
Question is everything, answer is maturity.
It is cowardice to not move forward in opportunity.
We cannot live in a life devoid of danger.
What Science does not
Science cannot satisfy man’s curiosity
and he searches for glimpses
beyond the Sciences
through the magic of emotional and imaginative world,
where man feels self-satisfied as if he is near the truth.
What Art not
The works done by mathematical formulas,
even though are the works of brain,
do not deserve to be called Art.
Painting is Art, Photography is not.
Where Art springs
When the creative imagination sees new dreams
Rising from imitation
And maneuvers its works in its own manner,
Let’s get small
There is fun in being small
We can see others’ significance dance around.
There is pleasure in the peacefulness of ego;
We can see others’ pretense.
The energy to manufacture Art
Doesn’t come from the mere superficial darshan of objects
nor does it comes from mere intellect and knowledge;
It comes from those subtle consciences,
Which find emotional caressing from divine experience
rising above bestial eyes.
The beast merely looks and remains satisfied,
but man tries to touch the heart of everything.
Teacher and teaching
Science cannot locate everything
and our psychological studies end
within the darkness of the intellect.
This is why no teacher can teach.
In the divine talent of the Creator
The word was born
studying this creation
attain clear messages of
Divine Beauty and
In the creative imagination of God,
Totality works and provides beautiful
lines and colors and forms
to the Truth of God.
We realize the ‘beautiful’ through the sensing of Truth
and where there is no Truth there isn’t beauty.
This Self-Illustrating form of God
manifests in artistic creativity such that
truth becoming beautiful descends to the outer forms of the senses.
practicality is limited and
philosophy, intellect is blind.
I enjoy imaginative truth the most
and through it find the glimpses of God
I enjoy gambling,
As I find ample opportunities there
To engage my mind and study.
Why is God silent?
It is the consequence of the
Western Civilization that,
God doesn’t speak in
Wind and Water.
I speak with the shadows
The optical world is merely
The manifestation of the inside
And all solid objects are liquid.
In the heart of the poet
The rocks speak
And the leaves have tongue.
Those who say,
The world doesn’t speak
Those who say,
There isn’t life in the hills and the trees and the stars
Elucidates the affinity
Between man and God
It is Human-Heart and Imagination
Man seeks to
His identification with the unknown
And in the world of the known
Seeks for the kingdom of the unknown
For studying the life of any culture
There’s nothing more enlightening
Then the Arts of that culture.
We feel we’ve reached near to the Creator
When that eye in our inner world opens
Can bring to form the unavailable and the irregular
And fill it with colours.
A small spark of
The fundamental creative dream energy of God
He tries to create
Runs after fresh magic to improve the world
Listens to the call of the unknown,
Ascending beyond sights and sounds
Seeks for the inner sparks and sounds
He turns forms into sounds and words into pictures
He dislikes boundaries
He wants to fly and pluck
Peek from darkness and
Steal the fire from heaven.
Work and Art
In a simple table,
The work of carpentry is done
If a carpenter
Creates a table as if a beautiful dream
Art it becomes.
We call those creations Art
Which are within the boundaries of truth and beauty
If they’ve got the natural affect
For the heart of life.
Empty dreams aren’t Art
As long as they don’t get published.
Truth and Beauty
Beauty arises from the prodigious consciousness of truth
As if truth,
Melting into life
Descends to the forms alive.